Srinagar: Recent analysis of data consolidated by a renowned foundation working for elderly Kashmir has revealed alarming statistics: nearly one out of every two elderly individuals reported experiencing abuse within their own families, with married sons identified as the primary perpetrators. This disturbing reality has prompted various organizations and institutions to come together in search of solutions.
To address the pressing issue of elder abuse, the Department of Social Work at the University of Kashmir, in collaboration with the Gauri Kaul Foundation, organised a seminar on World Elder Abuse Awareness Day 2023. Dignitaries, experts, and passionate individuals from diverse fields gathered to raise awareness and explore effective strategies to combat this pervasive problem.
The seminar served as a powerful platform to unite voices and advocate for the rights and well-being of the elderly.
While the event aimed to raise awareness, it also focused on inspiring action and promoting collective responsibility.
Dr. Zubair Saleem, Director of the Gauri Kaul Foundation, delivered an enlightening presentation on the various forms of abuse experienced by the elderly. His passionate appeal for urgent intervention emphasised society's responsibility to safeguard the rights and well-being of the elderly population.
The comprehensive geriatric evaluation conducted by Dr. Zubair Saleem provided valuable insights into the prevalence of elder abuse. Among the 26,000 senior citizens treated over a period of six years, a staggering 43 percent reported being victims of abuse in various forms. Disturbingly, emotional and psychological abuse, including verbal insults and neglect of basic needs, emerged as the most prevalent type of mistreatment. The data, Dr Saleem said, has been consolidated from patient history by a team of experts.
Among the seminar attendees was Prof Nilofer Khan, Vice Chancellor of the University of Kashmir, who highlighted the crucial role that children, particularly sons, play in caring for and supporting their elders. She commended the university's dedication to organizing programs that prioritize the welfare of the elderly, signaling the institution's active role in addressing the issue.
Recognising the need for collective action, the seminar highlighted the importance of community engagement, education, and support systems. Experts and panelists discussed preventive measures, support networks, and inclusive policies aimed at safeguarding the elderly population. The role of social workers, healthcare professionals, and legal authorities in identifying and addressing cases of elder abuse was also emphasized.
The speakers highlighted how addressing elder abuse required a multi-faceted approach. “Community engagement & education emerged as powerful tools in fostering inter-generational understanding and promoting a culture of respect and care within families,” Dr Saleem said.
Dr Shazia Manzoor said elderly issues and finding sustainable solutions to these societal problems was a focus area of her department – Social Works, which she heads. The speakers also underlined the need for creating safe spaces, helplines, and support systems where elderly individuals can report abuse and seek assistance. They urged commitment to protect and empower elderly, ensuring their “golden years are filled with love, compassion, and security”.
The seminar also honored the distinguished presence of individuals who have dedicated themselves to the cause. Prof. F A Masoodi, Prof. Nawchoo, Dr. Nissar Ahmad Mir, and Dr. Shazia Manzoor, representing the academic and administrative realms, were acknowledged for their unwavering commitment to combating elder abuse.